I want to thank my good friend Gene Jones for that update on Dubert Dobson. Gene is an old western swing player and lives several miles south of Wichita Falls, Texas.
I am thankful for your return and very appreciative of your newsletters.
In response to your comment above, Dubert Dobson was his full name, and he was affectionately called “Gar” by his friends. As you know, Dubert was known for those high register trumpet rides on Hank Thompson’s records. Dubert also played pretty good steel for his own enjoyment and if he had wanted to pursue it, I have no doubt he could have been a very good professional player. Dubert left Hanks band in 1964 to began a career as a firefighter with the Oklahoma City Fire Department, where we both served until Dubert’s untimely death from cancer. He was a dedicated firefighter with very little time to play off duty, but he did take a couple weeks of vacation annually to visit and sit in with bands and musicians he had known. He had intended to return to music after his retirement from the Fire Department, but unfortunately that was not to be.
It sure is nice to see these truly great western swing musicians still have a following. There sure were some great bands in that era that didn’t get anywhere the recognition they deserved.
Another fiddle player I meant to mention that died several years ago that played in many western swing groups was Leon Bollinger. He was a very nice guy. He also played six string electric mandolin. I remember Curly Chalker telling me one time that he hired Leon because he was so commercial sounding and helped make up for all the jazz Curly played.
Jimmy Belkins was another great famous western swinger. He worked in many bands out of Dallas in the 60’s, ended up working with the big Ray Price band. Ray liked him because he could read the arrangements as well as being able to play unarranged things on his own. Belkins also worked with Merle Haggard for a long time.
Johnny Gimble is another incredible fiddle player. I believe he is working out of Austin, Texas with a band. Just remember I’ve been out of circulation for 3 years and haven’t been able to keep up with what’s really going on so if I make a mistake every now and then please forgive me.
Another great western swing steel player that I’ll remember forever was one whose playing I idolized deeply. Maurice Anderson, later to become a partner in building a steel guitar. Maurice was also a Hall of Fame member. I hope our plaques are near each other.
Of course, Tom Morrell was another great western swinger. Tom and I met when we were in our teens in Dallas. Tom’s playing was very good. As a matter of fact, it was very, very good. I remember him and Billy Braddy playing the first Sho-Bud’s I had ever seen in the late 50s with The Western Starlighter Band. Tom would also figure in as a partner of the guitar company in the beginning.
I get to writing these newsletters and I think of so much more to write that I can hardly wait until next week when I come in and write another one.
Terry Bethel just stopped by to say hello. Terry is the steel player that worked on and off with Mel Tillis throughout his career. Terry is best known for his incredible western swing arrangements and playing parts to chords with the fiddle section. Terry also spent several years in Nashville working with country stars. I admire Terry for being so versatile.
The first time I got to hear Terry play was when I was substituting for Stu Basore on the Ralph Emery TV show in Nashville. Terry and the lead player Leo played Mrs. Robinson in a jazzed up version. Mrs. Robinson was a big Simon and Garfunkel hit from the movie The Graduate.
Here we go, ready to start another year. I hate to tell you how old I am but y’all have probably guessed it. I just turned 74 on the 21st. I didn’t know I was going to last this longer. I have so many friends that I’ve lost that were good steel players that were younger than me. It makes me appreciate still being here. I feel we have some very good doctors and hospitals here in Nashville and they’re doing their best to keep me kicking.
I would also like to say that I have lost many dear friends on my mailing list over the years since most of the people on the mailing list I know personally. If not, I feel like I do. So you can imagine how it feels when I get a reply from a wife telling me that her husband is no longer with her.
These things stay with me for years. In the last couple of newsletters I have mentioned that I would like to see any of you if you make it through Nashville in the next few years so please come by and see me. Perhaps now you can understand how I mean this.
Several people have come by to see me and missed me because I am only coming in on Tuesday afternoons at the moment. I expect to be here on a more regular basis come springtime and I’ll keep updated about when I’m likely to be here.
We have a New Year’s Sale on Peavey Nashville 112 amps. Check it out on the website.
Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Second and Third Saturday each Month Open 9AM – 2PM